SNAP GmbH is the Startup of the Week 43: Moving people


Health & FoodTech, IT & ICT

You canControlling technical systems with the help of thoughts – for many people this still sounds like science fiction. But it is already reality. Our Startup of the Week SNAP GmbH develops products and services in exactly this area: the interface between the human brain and technical systems. Sinah Grube from SNAP GmbH explained to us in an interview how exactly this works and what SNAP GmbH contributes to the development.

Hello Sinah! Thank you for taking the time for us today. Please explain what SNAP GmbH does.

We at SNAP GmbH, based in the BioMedicineCentre in Bochum, concentrate on the development of products and services in the following areas brain-computer interface (BCI systems), artificial intelligence (AI systems), data hosting, technical assistance systems and motion analysis.

Your vision lies in the field of brain-computer interfaces. How does that work?

The BCI is an interface from the human brain to a technical system, such as a computer or a mobile phone. In electroencephalography (EEG), we place electrodes on the scalp to record the activities of the brain. The neurological data obtained can be used to control technical systems in the environment through the pure thoughts of the human being. The possible applications are immense and offer great potential for the future (e.g. from the entertainment industry to health care). We are currently also part of two funded projects in this area, VAFES and ReXo, which are supported by the State of NRW and the European Union.

At ReXo project workers develop a biomechanically designed, adaptive exoskeleton for the upper extremities. In that project SNAP enables control of the rexoskeleton via the brain. Our goal is the training of a very well-functioning AI solution for a BCI. So SNAP GmbH decided right from the start to evaluate kinematic data for various fields of application. Thus we are not only AI specialists in the field of neurological data, but also in the evaluation of kinematic data. One example of an AI solution is our AI-based motion detection system, which we call AnaKin (analytical kinetics).

For motion analysis, we have developed our own in-house sensors that are attached to the body for data acquisition. The AnaKin records the movements of the wearer and memorises certain movements. Of course, it is also possible to purchase our own portable sensors, so that the movement data can be individually trained with the AnaKin. The trained AI can recognise whether, for example, a person carries out a movement correctly or not. On customer request SNAP GmbH as a service provider also offers pattern recognition and motion analysis on AI basis of already existing data sets recorded with external sensors. In addition to movement tracking, there is also the possibility of pure gesture control with our sensors. Only with a wristband equipped with our described sensors, gesture control becomes reality. With this, smartphones, games, tablets, drones can be controlled by a single wipe with the hand in the air.  

This is really an exciting field. What makes you stand out from your competitors?

In fact, there are very few companies in Germany that develop BCI systems, so we as a company are already extremely interesting for external partners and investors. In addition, we record and analyse neurological data synchronously with kinematic data. This combination is also not always common. 

Our motion analysis with our self-developed sensors offers the user considerable added value, asan inertial sensor transmitted the data wirelessly. Consequently, mobile use is also possible outside a laboratory. You can easily attache the sensor to the body with straps. An app collects and analyses the data. Furthermore, a USP in motion analysis is the connection to our individual AI solution. With regard to our digital assistance system, it can be said that we have the special feature here that our therapy platform is used in telemedical care. For example, doctors and physiotherapists can view the course of movement and training data. 

The trend towards video consultation hours will also increase more and more due to the current Covid-19 situation. Digital and AI-based assistance systems will provide an optimal basis for this. A very noteworthy point is, of course, that all neurological as well as kinematic data will be stored in Bochum and processed in compliance with DSGVO.

In addition to our products and services, the people behind the scenes at SNAP are unique. We are an intercultural, young, dynamic team that works every day with a great technical passion to invent technology that enhances our capabilities, our community and our world.

How do you integrate your solutions into a successful business model?

In the field of brain-computer interfaces we receive many interesting and individual enquiries for the development of new business fields. In the case of specific enquiries, we work together within the framework of development contracts. Furthermore, we are currently being supported in the BCI area by the state of North Rhine-Westphalia and the European Union within the framework of two funding projects, VAFES and REXO.

Our business model for processing kinematic data is similar to our BCI. The customer can choose between two options within the first meeting: 

  • The customer buys SNAPs specially developed sensors, which they need for data acquisition of the movements. Subsequently, an AI solution for the motion data is trained with our sensors in a customised service. 
  • The customer does not need any sensors, as data records from external sensors are already available. Therefore, we only train an AI for the existing motion data with the AnaKin individually according to customer requirements. 

We market our digital assistance system, the IRhythmic, as a training device and can be purchased from us on the market including a corresponding app. 

As our focus is on the health industry, we also offer a prevention course from SNAP GmbH for fall and movement prevention. The statutory health insurance companies usually pay for almost the complete prevention course.

An important note to all investors: We are always on the lookout for further investors, as venture capital can greatly accelerate the development of the BCI for the consumer market.

You just mentioned that you focus on the health industry. Are these the only potential clients you are addressing?

We address a very large target group with our products and services. Our focus is on the entire healthcare sector as well as the games industry. In the healthcare sector we can offer a grandiose added value in the area of prevention as well as rehabilitation. In the games industry, on the other hand, we can offer interactions with computer games, for example. We are currently gaining a foothold in the German market. For the future we cannot and do not want to exclude international marketing.

What stage of development are you currently in? And where do you want to go?

Very good question – because there is actually something from every development phase in our company. Our vision is and remains that we will develop a robust, intuitively operable BCI system that recognises and implements commands from the brain – a kind of “Siri” for thoughts. Due to our unique selling points, we have already received several requests for such a BCI system. So far, we can only process relatively simple commands with the BCI and are still bound to the computer. We want to become more precise so that, for example, a paraplegic person can move his hand – or legs – as naturally as possible with the help of an exoskeleton.

The next step is to transfer the AI (for neurological data) to portable devices. On the other hand, we have already successfully launched our sensors for motion analysis with the motion recognition system AnaKin. The same applies to our digital assistance system – the IRhythmic. Here we are in good contact with health insurance companies. End customers, such as hospitals and physiotherapists already use the training device. Our certified prevention course is also already successfully conducted online. Our sponsored projects, ReXo and VAFES, got off to a good start at the beginning of the year and we are on schedule here with our cooperation partners and are thus keeping on course.

 

Sinah, thank you very much for the exciting interview. We will definitely continue to follow SNAP’s developments and wish you continued success!

If you would like to learn more about SNAP GmbH, please visit their Innoloft profile.

Healex is the Startup of the Week 42: Connecting clinical research and clinical care


Health & FoodTech, IT & ICT

Currently, the medical sector has a major information management problem. This has been caused by the increase in knowledge in its scope, but also in the level of detail. The consequences are delays in the transfer of research results to effective therapies and massive cost increases due to increased expenditure. The medical sector definitely needs a solution. Our Startup of the Week, Healex, has developed an exciting platform approach that can help many stakeholders in the healthcare sector. We met Christoph Plamper from Healex for an interview.

Hello Christoph! Thank you for taking time for us today. Please explain shortly what Healex is.

Healex is a software and consulting company based in Cologne and Berlin that develops products and solutions for the efficient planning, control and acceleration of clinical trials, for therapy consulting in patient care and for the management of large volumes of clinical and health data.

You have developed your own platform for this, right? What is the goal of the platform?

Yes, exactly. The “Healex Site Management System” (SMS) brings together sponsors, researchers and investigators on an innovative platform and enables the planning, implementation and collaboration in clinical studies across multiple sites. Clinical studies are thus significantly accelerated and digitally managed. By supporting international medical data standards such as “FHIR” and the “Healex Clinical Hub”, a FHIR-based platform for structured clinical data, the “Healex Site Management System” (SMS) and our other solutions can be seamlessly integrated into existing hospital systems and research infrastructures, enabling the easy integration and use of structured clinical data for research and care.

What is special about this approach?

We bring together sponsors from pharma, clinics, research networks, researchers and investigators on our platforms. With the platforms we provide powerful collaboration tools and solutions for structuring clinical data. Both ensure that personalised therapies can be developed faster. In addition they are more data-driven and thus more cost-effectively in the long term.

Do you only sell your Healex Site Management System?

No. We develop and sell IT solutions in the B2B healthcare market, mainly our own but also partner solutions. This happens usually through multi-year license agreements, both SaaS and on-premise. We focus on platform models as well as product families and individual products. Roughly, we have divided our product and business model into two levels: Our core products are primarily aimed at large hospitals, pharmaceuticals and research organizations and are networked infrastructure solutions. Our Corona web tools are flexible web solutions that many industries can use. The core of our business model is that you can use almost all our solutions independently but also connect them and use them together. Business model is 70% product sales and development and approx. 30% consulting. We do not offer any other services apart from our core products.

Who falls within your target group?

Our target groups are mainly large university hospitals and research networks. Many hospitals, pharmaceutical companies and health insurance companies are customers as well.

What are your successes that you like to look back on?

For more than twelve years we have been supporting research groups and physicians in the integration of clinical care and research. Due to our close cooperation with one of the largest university hospitals in Germany, we have deep experience and proven solutions to critical processes and problems in clinical research and care. For many of these challenges, we have already delivered solutions that thousands of researchers and physicians use every day in numerous multinational clinical trials.

 

Christoph, that brings us to the end of our interview. Thank you very much for the exciting interview! We wish you continued success and will definitely continue to follow your developments.

If you want to learn more about Healex, you can take a look at the corresponding Innoloft profile.

Semasquare is the Startup of the Week 41: Digitalisation of vehicle cockpits


Industry 4.0 & Logistics, IT & ICT

Easy handling, automation of functions and low installation effort – for cockpits in commercial and special vehicles this is desirable, but often not a norm. Our Startup of the Week semasquare GmbH has recognized this gap and developed new approaches to make vehicle cockpits more intuitive and efficient. Today we talked to Moritz Koch, Sales Business Development Manager about their solution.

Hello Moritz! Thanks for taking the time today! Explain to our readers what semasquare does.

We at semasquare offer HMI and software engineering for commercial and special vehicles.

What do your solutions contain?

semasquare GmbH offers expertise on hardware and software up to the cloud. We work in an agile manner and can thus iteratively develop the perfect operating concept for the respective area of application via first mockups using rapid prototyping with customers. After defining the operating concept, we select suitable hardware components together with the customer and develop the software according to his ideas. With our experience in the areas of UI/UX, design decisions are critically discussed to optimize the user experience for the end user.

How does your approach differ from that of other providers?

Previous concepts for operating commercial vehicles often still rely on physical input elements such as buttons and switches that automate vehicle functions only to a limited extent. This makes it difficult to map the complexity of the vehicles. Service providers usually only offer the development of a modern user interface. However, the knowledge required to integrate them into a cloud and thus exploit their full potential is still missing.

So you develop individual concepts and also implement them, right?

That’s right. We offer individual engineering services for commercial vehicle manufacturers. Our goal on the one hand is to make the operation of the vehicles suitably intuitive. On the other hand we want to make the complex tasks manageable. Furthermore, semasquare enables the transfer of the accruing data to servers or the cloud. Thus we help our customers to develop and implement new innovative, data-based business models. A further project, which we adapted to the Covid-19 situation, is a puzzle bot which Escape Rooms or other providers of experiences can use to create and offer individual tours.

Has a new target group developed for you? Or are you still addressing the special vehicle industry?

So far yes. Our previous customers are manufacturers of commercial and special vehicles with complex superstructures from the fields of street sweepers/canal cleaners. In addition, many other applications such as waste collection vehicles, drilling vehicles and fire-fighting vehicles in public road traffic are of interest. Furthermore, commercial vehicles that are not registered for public road traffic, such as construction machines, construction site, forestry and agricultural vehicles are also targeted. Manufacturers of commercial vehicles, users, brokers, rental companies and service providers using commercial vehicles are also interesting customer groups.

You already entered the market. What are your next steps?

Yes, the market entry has already taken place with a pilot project. A second customer is about to place an order. To simplify the entry for these customers, we offered a service for the development of an HMI in the first step.

In addition to cold calling, we use the existing network via the cooperative visibleRuhr, Bochum Wirtschaftsentwicklung, the university and company network ruhrvalley and other friendly companies. Once the pilot projects are completed, we plan to use the experience gained from the projects to develop platforms for HMI and the cloud. The idea is that they will accelerate the processing of further projects. Based on the development, the service should slowly be transferred to products. In the future, the cloud will be used via licenses. This will make the cloud a scalable product. We want to continue to offer services based on the HMI platform. Our intention is to further expand our current partnerships.

We will also work with the Institute for Electric Mobility at Bochum University of Applied Sciences and other partners to promote innovation and progress in the field of electric mobility for commercial vehicles. In addition to the references of the pilot projects, we will thus underpin our innovative strength. We will compensate for the increasing workload by hiring additional full-time employees and working students. Our overriding goal is customer diversification. In this way we want to ensure that one customer accounts for a maximum of 30% of total sales.

Moritz, thank you very much for the exciting interview! We wish you continued success with your goals. We hope to hear a lot more from you.

If you want to learn more about semasquare, please have a look at the corresponding Innoloft profile.

node.energy is the Startup of the Week 38: Optimal planning & management of decentralized energy concepts


Energy & Environment, Energy Efficiency and Environment

The hardware for the energy system transformation is available. There is a wide range of technical solutions. Only constantly changing laws, rules and regulations complicate the market penetration of decentralized energy concepts. To ensure that renewable energy solutions pay off even without public funding, our startup of the week has developed software and services for decentralised energy concepts. They not only simplify the planning and management of decentralized energy systems, but also offer a new business model for energy suppliers and service providers. Matthias Karger, CEO of node.energy GmbH, tells us in an interview how the software can turn them into digital full-service providers for decentralized energy solutions and how they can benefit from this.

Hello Matthias. Thank you for giving us some insights into your startup node.energy today. Can you briefly summarize in one sentence what your mission is about?

Sure. We offer a software solution with which energy suppliers (EVUs) can use the increasing own energy generation of commercial customers for their own business opportunities.

Sounds interesting. Can you tell us a bit more about it?

We have developed a special software and service solution, which enables EVUs to quickly and cost-effectively position themselves as digital full-service providers for their commercial customers. With the help of the Software-as-a-Service solution opti.node, EVUs can recommend the ideal mix of their own generation and grid connection to their commercial customers in just a few minutes based on a few, mostly known customer data. Through this proactive approach, the EVU positions itself as the first point of contact for the planning and implementation of the suggested solutions and services. Through the subsequent digital management of the energy concepts, as well as through the supply of the rest of the electricity and surplus marketing, permanent and profitable customer relationships can be established. opti.node can take into account a large number of generators and consumers, as well as storage and e-mobility infrastructure. All regulatory interactions, such as allocations and taxes, are included in the optimization of energy costs. In this way, energy supply companies can guarantee their customers the lowest possible energy costs.

So you generate value for energy supply companies and energy service providers by offering them a software solution based on decentralised self-power concepts what generates new revenues. What are the revenues do you generate for them?

With our SaaS, even complex decentralized power concepts can be planned and managed in minutes. Thus, EVUs can use the growing self-sufficiency of their industry and tissue customers as their own business opportunity. New sales potential arises from the planning, construction and implementation of own power concepts. In addition, a continuous management fee can be established via opti.node through operational management and the automatic fulfilment of reporting and operator obligations. For example, atypical grid usage, or EEG quantity limitations and notifications, as well as all e-mobility operator obligations are taken into account. The concept is rounded off by the supply of residual electricity and the surplus marketing by the energy supply company. This ideal mix of self-sufficiency and residual electricity supply results in a hybrid product with high customer loyalty.

Your software and service solution offers not only reduced complexity and bureaucracy for customers, but also provides EVUs a revenue model that is tailored to new market requirements. 

How do you generate revenue yourself?

We offer our product as a Software-as-a-Service model for which an annual usage fee is due. In continuous management, this is only due when new revenues are actually generated with customers.

And to whom your solution is adressed in general?

We address the entire value chain of decentralized power generation and automate it as far as possible.

In 2016 your company was founded and you spent some time developing your opti.node software. Since when is your solution available on the market?

Our software has been on the market since the beginning of 2019 and is constantly being further developed on the basis of new customer requirements. Our customers therefore benefit from a constantly growing range of functions.

Many thanks, Matthias, for the exciting insights. Then we keep our fingers crossed for the future and wish you every success. We hope to hear a lot more from you and are looking forward to your further developments. If you would like to learn more about node.energy, please take a look at your Innoloft profile or contact us directly.

Breeze Technologies is the Startup of the Week 35: Sensors for air quality


Energy & Environment, Energy Efficiency and Environment, IT & ICT

In recent months we have seen the positive effects of the lockdown on our environment. The smog has disappeared and the air was clear again in many places. However, many cities only measure their air quality selectively, leaving large gaps in the data. This is set to change now. We spoke with Robert Heinecke about his startup Breeze Technologies for this mission.

Hello, Robert. Thanks for answering our questions today. Let’s get right to it: what does Breeze Technologies do?

Breeze Technologies provides comprehensive air quality and climate data, generates recommendations for action and thus helps cities and companies to create a more liveable environment.

That sounds very exciting! Could you explain to us exactly how this works?

Gladly! We develop small and cost-effective air quality sensors that detect all common air pollutants in real time. They collect the data thus obtained in a central cloud. In addition, we also integrate other data sources, such as satellite data, in order to obtain the most accurate picture possible of the air quality in our cities. An artificial intelligence system developed by us evaluates this data in real time. It  provides optimal recommendations for action to improve local air quality. These are fed from a catalog of over 3,500 individual measures and range from photocatalytic asphalt in road construction to traffic control based on air quality data, such as that being tested in the city of Cologne as gatekeeper traffic lights.

By using artificial intelligence, your system gives new recommendations depending on the situation, right?

Right. Our system also measures the impact of the measures implemented, which enables us to make even better recommendations in the future. We also provide a similar service for building managers, whom we help to measure and optimise air quality in office environments. You can use our system both indoors and outdoors.

How did you build your business model?

We rent our sensors to companies and cities and charge an annual rental and maintenance fee. In addition to the measures recommended by us for improving air quality, service providers and manufacturers are acquired as partners who pay a commission fee for sales generated through us.

Do you keep your target group quite general?

Yes, we mainly address HSE and facility managers in larger companies and the municipal administration. The industry in which the company is active is not important for the time being.

Two years ago you won the Hamburg Founder’s Prize and you have already started exciting projects. Can you give us a little insight into that?

Sure. We have already achieved many successes with renowned pilot customers such as Deutsche Telekom and Smart City projects in Hamburg and Berlin. We also make some of the data we collect available to the public via a citizens’ platform. Our company has also been named one of the most promising European start-ups in numerous national and international competitions. These include, for example, the Hamburg Founder’s Prize, which you have just mentioned, the EU Top 50, an award from the German President and inclusion in the Forbes 30 Under 30 list for social entrepreneurs.

Robert, thank you very much for this exciting interview! We wish you continued success.
If you would like to learn more about Breeze Technologies, please visit their Innoloft profile to find out more about their products and requests.

Hybrid Lidar Systems is the Startup of the Week 34: Smart Sensoring and Automotive


IT & ICT, Mobility, Smart City & Buildings

The mobility sector is facing radical change, as we redifine mobility in terms of safety and sustainability. This is an exciting time in which many organisations develop new solutions that incorporate the latest technology. Today we talk to Ingo Diettele, CEO of Hybrid Lidar Systems. The Startup of the Week has developed exciting solutions to meet the needs of the modern transport system.

Hello Ingo! We’re glad you’re here today. Can you give us an insight into the German transport system and current developments? What role does your startup play in it?

Germany has one of the densest road and rail networks in the world. In this context, safety-relevant requirements of all types of mobility are essential areas of consideration for the industries involved. Among other things, autonomous mobility plays an important role in current discussions.

Mobility and safety have thus entered into an inseparable symbiosis. Sensors that take over the functions of the human eye and our experiential knowledge are indispensable for making autonomous driving possible. Research is increasingly focusing on LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) sensors. These sensors are not ready yet to enter the mass market, but due to their characteristics they represent a potential solution for nationwide, fully automated driving that meets safety standards.

Our project focuses on the research and (further) development of LiDAR sensors and their applications, concentrating on a completely new approach. The decisive factor was the invention of an innovative measuring method. This allows data acquisition using novel digital signal processing algorithms with a very low computational effort.

A vehicle optimally equipped for traffic has to meet various industrial requirements. The currently available advanced technology offers partly precise and expensive solutions. With our product LiSSA (LiDAR for Smart Sensing and Automotive) we present a unique approach that meets and even exceeds the requirements. Due to the low computational effort, the innovation can be offered reliably and cost-effectively. With our hybrid process, in addition to high resolution (double VGA), a high degree of accuracy (<1 cm), a guaranteed laser safety class 1 (eye-safe), and a range of more than 200 meters are possible.

The combination of several novel approaches enables better object classification, which is a crucial safety factor for the movement of autonomous vehicles in a dynamic environment.

How exactly do your sensors work?

With our LiSSA Automotive it is possible to generate a high-resolution LiDAR image to detect objects. The software algorithms make it possible to change parameters that were previously firmly anchored in the chip. By using our multiplexing approach it is possible to drastically increase the usable chip area and thus to generate a high-resolution image. In addition, we are currently working on further novel components and can thus optimize the resolution in the future. The goal is to equip every moving object in road traffic with our LiDAR sensor technology so that we can raise traffic to a new level of security!

The high-resolution data that we provide with the help of our sensor is available for further processing both inside and outside the vehicle. LiDAR sensors are indispensable for further linking of the vehicle. Among others in the fields of logistics, consumer electronics (smartphones/tablets), augmented reality or even wind power and drones: Wherever a machine must or should be able to “see”, you need a LiDAR sensor.

You have already presented many unique values of the LiDAR sensor technology, can you go into more detail about the most important USP of your solution?

As already mentioned, we offer a significantly higher resolution with our product: This is done by our signal processing algorithm, which also drastically increases the usable chip area. In addition, an innovative multi-spectral approach is part of the project – this allows several areas of the environment being simultaneously, resulting in a faster and higher resolution environment detection.

Is your innovation already usable?

Not yet. Currently the Hybrid Lidar Systems is mainly in the research and development process. In our laboratory we are manufacturing the first LiDAR sensors in manual work with prototype components. We are active in the field of optoelectronics, as well as hardware and software programming and act as a design center.

Within the next two years we aim to revolutionize autonomous mobility using LiDAR sensors. The long-term, overriding goal is to use our sensor to provide the basis for safe and cost-efficient mobility for the mass market.

I see. In which industries is your product at home? Only the automotive industry?

Not quite. The main target group is the international automotive industry, yes. However, we have also established numerous contacts with other industries that require the advantages of LiDAR sensors. The “seeing” is an elementary property that is needed in many sectors (logistics, industry, wind energy, health care & sports, traffic & mobility) to take products to a new (safety) level.

You mentioned earlier that you are still in the research phase. What is the next big milestone for you?

We have been pursuing our goals since the end of 2018, the founding of the company. At the end of Q4 this year, Q1/2021 we plan to book our first automotive project. Our industrial product LiSSA Industry is already available for order and will be delivered to the first customer in the logistics sector at the end of this year.

Ingo, unfortunately we have already reached the end of the interview. Thank you very much for the exciting insights into the automotive world and your innovative solution. We wish you continued success! 

If you want to learn more about Hybrid Lidar Systems, you can have a look at the Innoloft profile.

Olmatic is the Startup of the Week 32: Efficient energy management solutions


Energy & Environment, Industry 4.0 & Logistics, IT & ICT

Although the addition of “smart” has long been an important aspect in the discussion on energy management systems, concrete implementation approaches are rarely found.  Our Startup of the Week has the same opinion – especially since conventional systems are usually inflexible and platform-bound. One of the co-founders of Olmatic, Christian Olma, therefore introduces us to their solution: The Olmatic Power Tracking.

Hello Christian! Thank you for taking the time. We are looking forward to getting to know Olmatic better. Would you give us a small pitch for that?

Sure! We develop, manufacture and market devices and systems for energy management 4.0 and wireless networking through central control units in the industry 4.0 and IoT area. Our highly innovative Olmatic Power Tracking enables maximum self-sufficiency in the energy sector.

What exactly is the Olmatic Power Tracking about?

The so-called Olmatic Power Tracking (OPT) is an intelligent combination of hardware and software, combined in one product, which deals with the completely self-sufficient supply of electrical consumers via regenerative energy sources without the necessity of a conventional supply network. In order to use the power available from renewable energy sources (solar cells, wind turbines, hydroelectric power plants, etc.) in the most effective way, without losing excess energy in the form of power loss or the like, the OPT offers the appropriate technologies and systems to realize dynamic power distribution and prioritization of energy and consumer sources. This means that with an optimal design it is possible to almost completely dispense with the public supply network and to reduce the energy demand via the conventional supply network to < 1%. Even if the system is used without regenerative energy sources, i.e. directly via the conventional supply network, >30% energy savings can be achieved compared to conventional energy management systems.

The main focus of our energy management system is on the specific treatment of each input source and each consumer output independently of each other. This gives us the possibility to distribute energy to all consumers of a system with the highest efficiency. In combination with a direct integration into the supply line and open interfaces in the communication line, our energy management systems can easily be adapted to or integrated into existing systems. This makes it possible to distribute energy across the boundaries of a specific platform or system.

How does your product perform compared to currently established energy management systems?

In contrast to conventional energy management systems, it is characterized above all by the additional networking of the Smart Grid at the supply level, which enables stepless power regulation (0-100%) and power distribution. Through the specific consideration of all energy consumers and the platform independence of the systems, a highly efficient energy sharing between different energy systems can be operated with maximum efficiency. Conventional systems are platform-bound and can only communicate via the communication interfaces and suffer from higher losses and a lack of dynamics due to static switching on and off based on preconfigured power hysteresis. Especially in safety-relevant systems, the simple shutdown can lead to enormous security gaps or chaos scenarios, which the OPT procedure avoids via intelligent and dynamic power regulation and distribution on the basis of prioritizations. Through customized, individually adaptable designs of the modules, a maximum energy saving can be achieved at low investment costs for the manufacturer/developer, which promise low payback periods. The OPT process is linked to already existing and established energy management modules and central control units of the Olmatic product range and thus realizes the following two core products, which can be used in combination or independently of each other in all AC and DC power-based energy systems, conventional and regenerative generation methods.

You were just talking about customizing your products to suit your customer’s needs. The pricing will certainly be the same, right?

We follow the implementation of two different business models. On the one hand, we sell via direct sales in the B2B area through appropriate acquisition of our sales team and in the course of networking measures, and on the other hand, we have a large cooperation partner named Endrich Bauelemente Vertriebs GmbH, which acts as a middleman for us and actively sells our product range internationally. Since we always offer customer-specific products, the pricing model is variable and calculated according to complexity and effort. As an additional service in the field of Energy Management 4.0 we offer the complete energy consulting as an additional service.

What do you think about the market you are currently addressing? To what extent do you see growth potential, opportunities and risks there?

Placing a product such as Olmatic Power Tracking at the right time in a market that is currently more than ever in the focus of current attention undoubtedly brings with it a huge opportunity to establish the company as a pioneer in a market that will continue to grow steadily in the future. Since the market for electrical consumers will tend to rise in the coming years, while conventional energy resources will tend to decline, it is to be expected that the market in the segment of renewable energy supply will bring secure growth in the coming decades. Timely market entry and the protection of the product against competitors therefore represent a huge opportunity for us to already now sustainably position ourselves for the coming decades. Nevertheless, the market is highly competitive and is already populated by a large number of “big players” who will gladly and directly accept the competition and already have the financial background to become active here in the short term. The big chance is thus at the same time a big risk to lose the competition and thus the market shares already at the beginning, if the strategy and the goals are not pursued with fullest precision. We pursue the international target group.

 

You founded your company in 2016, a lot has happened since then. You have already explained some of the results to us. What are the next steps for the development of Olmatic?

Last year, we developed the existing prototypes to market maturity. The aim was to be able to place them on the market as quickly as possible. In the course of the prototype phase, a new energy management module was developed, which includes the OPT procedure. Three new products have been developed, which are directly communicated to already existing customer networks and distribution channels. The power supply module is the first product of the new Universal 4.0 series and serves in its current version as a power supply module for intelligent supply and energy management according to OPT for consumers in the low voltage range. The wiu, which has been expanded to include the software functionality of the OPT, can be marketed directly as a successor model to the existing plus the additional function of the OPT and will in future serve as a central gateway and control unit for the digital networking of the system.

Christian, many thanks for this exciting and detailed interview. We wish you every success in the further development of Olmatic. If anyone would like to learn more, please take a look at Olmatic’s Innoloft profile.

Solarworx is the Startup of the Week 31: Solar power for rural electrification


Energy & Environment

If a political discourse is conducted in Germany on electricity supply, buzzwords such as “renewable energies”, “smart grid” or “storage systems” are often used. These terms are characterised by technological progress, because if an electricity grid has already been built up and established, further developments and optimisation measures follow. What is often not taken into account, however, is that 1.2 billion people on earth still live completely without access to electricity. Instead, fossil fuels such as diesel or kerosene are used – of course with considerable effects on nature and society. Our startup of the week, Solarworx, has therefore taken the initiative and is reacting to these problems. How? CEO Felix Boldt explains this to us in our interview. 

Hello, Felix, thank you for taking the time to talk to us! We are pleased to learn more about Solarworx today. That’s why I start with the first question: How would you describe Solarworx in one sentence?

We offer innovative solar power solutions for 1.2 billion people without access to electricity.

A very social approach. Could you go into a little more detail? How is your solution technically structured, for example?

Our solar power solutions are aimed at people in sub-Saharan Africa who live far away from the public power grid. Our systems can be modularly expanded and speak to our customers in local languages like Swahili and Wolof. Individual systems can be interconnected to form a DC microgrid, allowing neighbors to share power and larger consumers to operate easily. Our products are IoT integrated and can be conveniently paid in installments via the customer’s mobile phone credit (PayGo). We use clean solar power, wood-based plastics for our product housings and innovative battery technologies that are not made of rare ressources.

You’ve just listed some of the aspects that make your technology and mission stand out. Do you create further added value?

We have used our many years of experience as founders in the off-grid solar sector to develop a unique solution tailored to our target markets. The systems can be used to operate household appliances (lamps, televisions, refrigerators) or support small local businesses without access to electricity. Compared to diesel generators and the connection to a power grid, we offer a cheaper and ecologically sustainable alternative.

The electricity produced by your systems is intended for the end consumer. Is your business model structured accordingly?

No, we are pursuing a different concept.Our experience has shown that vertically integrated B2C concepts with a regional focus are risky and prevent fast scaling. We therefore sell our products on a B2B basis to local distributors experienced in the target markets (currently West Africa). We also offer consulting services to distributors, NGOs and other international players.

In the beginning you talked about 1.2 billion people who currently live without access to electricity. What impact does such a lifestyle have?

Exactly, more than 1 billion of the world’s poorest people have no access to electricity. 600 million in sub-Saharan Africa alone. Most of them use fossil fuels, such as kerosene for light and diesel for generators. The lack of access to a clean and cost-effective electricity supply limits children’s educational opportunities, damages the health of families and offers only very limited opportunities to generate income.

You founded your company in 2018 and have already reached many milestones since then. Can you tell us more about it?

Since the end of 2018, we have tested our solar power systems in two pilot projects with a total of 250 systems in Senegal and Cameroon. The first commercial production started last year. In parallel, we have developed a microgrid module. We were able to secure a seed investment from InnoEnergy and various other grants. For our solar home systems we were awarded the “Digital Solar & Storage” award and qualified for the global final round of “Empower a billion lives” by IEEE. At the end of last year we took second place in the MakeItBetter Award.

Thank you very much for the exciting interview, Felix. We think your project is great and wish you continued success!
Solarworx is still looking for investors to start the serial production of their modular solution. You can find more information on their Innoloft profile.

Nuventura is the Startup of the Week 30: the next generation of gas insulated switchgear


Energy & Environment, Energy Efficiency and Environment

The term CO2 is probably most present one in discussions and reports on greenhouse gases. Less frequently, compounds such as methane or nitrous oxide fall. However, only those who are more intensively involved with the subject have come across the family of fluorinated greenhouse gases. Unlike the classic greenhouse gases, the so-called F-gases are not released as unwanted by-products (e.g. during the combustion of fossil raw materials). However, the industry produces them specifically e.g. for a gas insulated switchgear. According to the Umwelt Bundesamt, their effect on the ozone layer is up to 100 to 24.000 times higher than that of carbon dioxide. Our Startup of the Week nuventura rightly sees a need for action there. Therefore tey are developing a technology that works without SF6. CEO Fabian Lemke explains more about the background in the interview.

Hello, Fabian! Thank you so much for taking the time for us! Would you give us a short pitch for the beginning?

Nuventura empowers a safer and more efficient energy grid free from SF6 – the most potent greenhouse gas in existence.

An energy network contains a large number of components. Where does your solution start?

Nuventura has invented a new revolutionary switchgear – essential component of any electricity grid – that is free from greenhouse gases and outperforms the existing industry standard.
Existing gas insulated switchgear (GIS) are based on SF6 – the most potent greenhouse gas humanity knows. It is 23,500 times worse than CO2 in terms of its global warming effect. It is a synthetic gas for which neither a natural sink exists, nor an effective disposal method is at hand. This makes its accumulation in the atmosphere virtually irreversible. On top of this, the gas is extremely long-lived: SF6’s atmospheric lifetime is 3,200 years, which is well beyond CO2‘s 100-200- year lifetime.

The available data shows that every year approx. 8000t of SF6 are emitted into the atmosphere (equivalent of 188,000,000t of CO2). 80% of all the SF6 produced is used inside gas insulated switchgear. Nuventura developed a GIS that instead of SF6 simply uses the air we all breathe, in such a way eliminating the usage of this highly potent greenhouse gas.

That sounds very promising. Are there additional advantages of your switchgear?

The technology does not only have the potential to trigger a greenhouse gas emission reduction equivalent to 100 million cars, but it also significantly improves the performance of the switchgear. It enables, for the first time, integrated type tested sensor system. The technology paves the way for industry 4.0 applications, such as condition monitoring, predictive maintenance or dynamic adjustments of maximum acceptable loads. Its innovative design reduces total cost of ownership due to the enabled benefits and extended lifetime. Furthermore it allows for competitive production and operation by simplifying the manufacturing process and removing the need for gas handling and expensive manufacturing processes common in SF6-based designs.

What is the distribution of your development like?

We license our technology to manufacturers, functioning as an R&D centre for them. We also collaborate with the end users of our technology (DSOs and industry) to ensure that we design the nuventura switchgear according to their needs.

You have just mentioned the industrial sector as a potential market. How big is the total market you are moving in?

In total, our technology addresses a market of € 11.1 Bn that will continue to grow with a 10 % CAGR to become a € 23.1 Bn market by 2024. Our target clients are the global community of switchgear manufacturers.

That’s really great potential. What have you already done to open up this market?

Last year we closed our seed investment round including E.ON, VC Fonds Technologie Berlin managed by IBB Beteiligungsgesellschaft mbH, Apex Energy Teterow and existing investors. After the investment, several grants, loans and national and international innovation prizes won, nuventura now has a substantial 7-digit EUR amount at hand to realize its upcoming goals and milestones. Our focus now is to continue certifying our sustainable, patented technology for gas insulated switchgear for commercial application in the medium voltage range and to enter the market for switchgear technologies as a technology licensing company.

Fabian, thank you very much for this exciting interview! We hope to hear a lot from you in the future and support your approach to greenhouse gas reduction.

You want to learn more about nuventura? Nuventura’s Innoloft profile gives you more information about possible cooperation opportunities.

ChemiTek is the Startup of the Week 29: Advanced Chemistry for an advanced future


Energy & Environment

Most cleaning products are actually full of chemicals that have a negative impact on our environment. This applies not only to those in our own cupboards, but also the products that are used by the industrial sector. Startup of the Week ChemiTek develops cleaning and maintenance products for industrial maintenance, that are biodegradable. CEO César Martins told us more about their mission and actions during corona in the interview.

Hello, César! Thank you for being here today! Let’s start directly with our first question: How would you pitch ChemiTek?

We are a Portuguese company and dedicated to developing, producing and commercializing customized and innovative solutions for industrial maintenance, satisfying specific cleaning and maintenance needs. Within ChemiTek we offer a range of different products, one of them being used in the photovoltaic sector. While doing that, we ensure that our products are biodegradable.

So, let’s talk about your product Solar Wash Protect. What does that entail?

The potential of photovoltaic panels as a source of renewable energy is known and undeniable. However, solar panels’ performance is affected by many factors, including the accumulation of dirt, dust, moss and other particles. In fact, the production of photovoltaic solar panels that are not properly cleaned may decrease until 50% to 86%.
Our solution is Solar Wash Protect. Once you apply the product your panel will produce more energy, for longer periods. How? Because with cleaner solar panels, time between maintenance also increases, saving manpower and water. Solar Wash Protect is biodegradable and the panel glass becomes anti-adherent, so that dirt will not stick to the panel.

Why does Solar Wash Protect stand out? What is the USP?

Solar Wash and Solar Wash Protect (SWP) have direct competition when it comes to its washing features by some products. Other products are just a product to wash without giving the panels no protection, the price is also quite high. Our product, besides cleaning, protects from dirt. This is increasing energy production, while reducing cleaning and water costs.

What is your business model?

We sell our products to solar parks, O&M teams and panel producers. Usually, this selling is a B2B process, but in some cases and markets we will also be able to sell through resellers.

During your previous answers you briefly addressed your customers: Solar parks and the industrial sector.  Do you make any further selections within this target group?

Not really. Like I mentioned, we mainly target solar parks, panel producers and O&M teams. Our customers are not only based in Portugal, but all over the world. With our strong global expansion and an international culture shaping our global footprint, we aim to develop good and sustainable relations with local business partners in five continents.

ChemiTek was founded in 2018 and since then surely pushed the development of its products steadily. In terms of agility: Has your strategic direction changed since then, or are you still pursuing your core vision?

Yes, we are still selling our Solar Wash Protect and doing customer tests with our other products. We have already been able to validate the data of all the products with a prize that we have won from INL.int. During the pandemic, we could get some financial help to accelerate the production of our SANI PROTECT, a disinfectant and hygiene product. This way we can actively help in the combat against COVID-19.

Unfortunately, this was our last question. Thank you César for these fascinating insights! We wish you continued success. If anybody wants to know more about ChemiTek, check out their Innoloft Profile.